Once you’ve picked out the best flight bag you can find, it’s time to stock it with all the essential gear you’ll need to fly. Every pilot has their own method for what gear they take with them while flying, but there are a few we think every private pilot should always take with them when they fly.

Whether your an experienced pilot or a brand new student pilot, there’s gear here you’ll use on every single flight. Plus some gear you may not use regularly, but will definitely want just in case.

Here are the top ten essentials!

1. Pilot Certificate & Medical

This one’s a no brainer, because you can’t legally fly without these. Make sure they are always in your flight bag.

2. Headset (with extra batteries if necessary)

This one should be a no-brainer as well, but always make sure you’ve got your headset with you before heading to the airport.

Nothing will ruin your planned flight faster than opening your bag and realizing you’ve forgotten it.

flight school if necessary.

Headset inside cockpit

3. iPad with ForeFlight and/or Sectional Charts

ForeFlight allows you increased situational awareness in the cockpit, and many pilots swear by it. It’s arguably the most popular electronic charts option on the market.

If you fly with ForeFlight, it can also be a good idea to keep a set of sectional charts as a backup in case anything ever happens with your iPad.

And make sure you keep your sectional charts up to date.

4. Kneeboard with Pen and Paper

This next one might seem “old school”, but every pilot should have pen and paper nearby to write down instructions and frequencies. With a kneeboard, you can have your pens and paper handy, and ready to go.

Plus, most kneeboards are built to hold your iPad along with a pen and small notepad.

5. Snacks & Water

Are snacks really necessities? Not always, but they can come in handy in the times you least expect.

A couple energy bars weigh next to nothing and take up very little space, and they can save you from being preoccupied with unexpected hunger in flight. Trust me, throw a couple in your flight bag.

Worst case scenario you don’t eat them and they’re already in there for your next flight.

Water is a no-brainer: dehydration can cause you serious physical and mental issues, and it’s not something you want to experience while 10,000 feet in the air. Drink plenty of water. Pick up a good reusable water bottle and get in the habit of filling it up before each flight.

If you’re a full time student pilot, snacks are definitely essential.

6. Charging Cords and a Backup Battery

If you’re flying with an iPad a charging cord and backup battery is essential. Particularly on those long cross country flights.

It’s a good idea to pick up a battery that’s strong enough to charge your iPad a few times, just in case.

It also helps for when you need to charge your phone mid flight.

7. Non-polarized sunglasses

Flying in Texas has taught us that sunglasses aren’t just nice things to have so you can look cool in the cockpit.

They are necessities without which your vision can be severely impaired when flying certain headings throughout the day.

Get a pair of good non-polarized glasses that won’t reduce visibility through windscreens or instruments with anti-glare filters.

8. Fuel Tester with Screwdriver

fuel tester and screwdriver is a flying MUST! It hardly takes up any space in your flight bag, but makes all the difference!

With a fuel tester and 4-way screwdriver, or reversible screwdriver attachment, you can check the quality of your fuel before you fly.

Besides the obvious reason, checking fuel is also important because you may get different fuel from other airports. And you want to make sure you have quality fuel to get you where you want to go

9. Extra Tools & Survival Gear

Extra tools can be a huge help in the cockpit and very handy on emergency maintenance stops. Many of these items are things you’ll collect as your aviation career goes on, so we wouldn’t consider all of these as student pilot essentials.

It’s always a good idea to keep a pocket knife or multitool on you, and we also recommend keeping extra oil and some microfiber towels in the aircraft as well.

You’ll also want to be sure you have a good flashlight. You can check out our guide on the best flashlights for pilots to help you find a good one.

It can’t hurt to also have a barf bag handy… for your passengers, of course!

How much or how little survival gear to keep in your flight bag is up to you, but it’s a good idea to at least bring some basic items like a compass and a first aid kit.

Nobody wants to think of the possibility of needing these items, but to be a truly safe pilot you have to plan for the unthinkable.

If you commonly fly over bodies of water, consider getting a water-activated emergency light or beacon.

If you fly at high altitudes, look into getting a pulse oximeter.

There are countless survival items designed specifically for pilots that have saved lives.

Do yourself a big favor and research some of these items. Decide which are necessary for you, keep them with you, and hope you never have to use them.

Conclusion

And there you have it! Our top ten flight bag essentials! Now it’s important to remember, just like no two pilots are the same, no two flight bags are the same!

Just getting started on your journey to becoming a pilot? Check out our guide on how to become a pilot.

And if you’re headed out on an extra long trip be sure to bring along one of these top aviation books every pilot should read.

What other gear do you recommend as student pilot essentials?

Whether you’re a brand new pilot or have thousands of hours in your log book, there’s always more to learn. And one of my favorite ways to learn is from books. So I’ve put together a list of my 10 favorite books for pilots and aviation enthusiasts.

These books range from instructional to biographical so there’s something for everyone. Just pick up one or two and slip them in your flight bag or on your e-reader for when your stuck at an airport with a weather delay.

1. Stick & Rudder: An Explanation of the Art of Flying by Wolfgang Langewiesche.

The famous pilot who made his first solo flight in Chicago in 1934 shares the discrepancy in the aviation world that he discovered early on in his flying career: words and realities disagree.

In other words, what aviators said that they were doing when they were piloting airplanes and what they were actually doing when they were flying were two different things. Langewische aimed to provide more accurate and realistic descriptions of what pilots actually do when they fly.

His first attempt at making these explanations was a collection of articles that were titled ‘Air Facts’, which assessed the different techniques pilots used to fly aircraft. In 1944, the aviator’s book ‘Stick & Rudder: An Explanation of the Art of Flying’ was published.

Some of the key details that are discussed in this book include:

  • An explanation of the Angle of Attack, including what it is and why it is not visible, as well as how lift is created and the pilots role in creating it.
  • The reasons why planes stall.
  • The Landing Approach, including how an aviator’s acts in judging the landing approach and the visual clues that veteran pilots judge unconsciously to land their aircraft – including “The Spot that Does Not Move” and how novice pilots can learn and use these clues to their advantage.
  • The paradox of glide.
  • The “tail-dragger”, which highlights landing gear and explains why it can be difficult.
  • Why planes don’t feel the wind and hence, why they typically fly slightly sidewise.

Buy the Book

2. Fly Girls: how Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History by Keith O’Brien.

This book captures the five women who offered incredible contributions to the aviation industry, and besides Amelia Earhart, are not well-known.

In addition to Earhart, the additional four female aviators highlighted in this book are Ruth ElderRuth NicholsFlorence Klingensmith, and Louise Thaden.

The author accounts the trials, tribulations, successes, and everlasting impact these women had on the aviation industry – an industry that is historically male-dominated – and how they paved the way for women pilots today.

Buy the Book

3. Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice by by Adam Makos.

This story tells the inspiring tale of Lieutenant Tom Hudner and Ensign Jesse Brown, the most famed duo pilots in the history of the U.S. Navy. Hudner was a white male who hailed from an affluent New England Family who forewent studying at Harvard to fly fighter jets in the Navy.

Brown was an African American from Mississippi, the son of a sharecropper, who became the first African American carrier pilot for the Navy and served a country at a time when Jim Crow laws prevented him from being served in restaurants and bars.

The duo manned fighter jets in the Korean War together and defend Marines who were cornered at the Chosin Reservoir. When one is shot down, the other must decide how to save his friend from certain death.

Buy the Book

4. Into the Abyss: An Extraordinary True Story by Carol Shaben.

This is the true story of a commuter plane that crashed in the remote wilderness of, Canada in October, 1984. On board the plane were 10 passengers; 6 perished and four survived: the pilot, a politician, a police officer, and a criminal who was being escorted to face his charges.

The politician was Larry Shaben, the first Muslim Cabinet Ministor of Canada and the father of the book’s author.

The story recounts the real-life harrowing experience the four survivors endured and the life-changing friendships they forged under desperate circumstances.

Buy the Book

5. Weather Flying, Fifth Edition by Robert Buck.

A resource guide that provides insightful and potentially life-saving tips that pilots’ can use to fly their aircraft in all kinds of weather conditions.

‘Weather Flying’ is regarded as the ‘bible of weather flying’, as it explains the vast types of weather a pilot may face and the appropriate ways to deal with that weather. This is definitely a must read for every new pilot.

Buy the Book

6. The Thinking Pilots Flight Manual: Or, How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It by Rick Durden.

This guidebook picks up where standard flight-training manuals leave off. The author illustrates topics that aren’t taught in flight-training school and encourages aviators to think about these topics in real-life applications.

Topics range from how to actually handle a preflight to handling difficult landings. It also offers details on aerobatics, flying float planes, and exposes some of the most common aviation myths you’ll inevitably hear from other pilots.

Buy the Book

7. Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge by Federal Aviation Administration/Aviation Supplies & Academics.

An official FAA handbook that has been required reading for pilots for more than three decades. It offers basic flying fundamentals for all types of pilots and all types of aircraft.

The guide offers required knowledge that pilots need in order to comprehend aerodynamic theory and earn a certificate.

Buy the Book

8. Squawk 7700 by Peter M Buffington.

This book recounts the journey Peter Buffington, the author, took to achieve his childhood dream: becoming a pilot for a commercial airline.

Buy the Book

9.The Next Hour: The Most Important Hours in Your Logbook by Richard L. Collins. by Peter M Buffington.

Author and aviator Collins shares his personal experience in the hopes that pilots of all experience levels and abilities will be able to learn how to navigate through the inherent risks that are associated with flying small planes. Topics include:

  • The three word emergency checklist all pilots should know
  • Why the thought process of a pilot is more important than his experience
  • The unique trials, tribulations – and rewards – of night flying.
  • How to effectively manage technology in the cockpit.

Buy the Book

10. Unusual Attitudes: Obsessions and Confessions of a Lady Pilot by Martha Lunken.

A collection of author and aviator Martha Lunken’s favorite Flying Magazine columns. Lunken collected these columns in her book in an effort to reach a wider audience.

The stories highlight her experience in aviation and fellow aviators who shaped her career and had a lasting impact on her life.

Buy the Book

What are some of your favorite aviation books? Let us know in the comments below.

A good quality flashlight is a flight bag essential. But you don’t want just any cheap light. You want a quality light you can depend on when you need it.

Once you start flying at night you’ll need a nice light for your preflight inspection and for reading any charts in the cockpit.

This list of flashlights and headlamps are some of our top pics for quality lights you can pack in your flight bag.

What to Look for in a Flashlight or Headlamp

When searching for the perfect flashlight there’s a few things you’ll want to consider.

You’ll want a flashlight or headlamp that has a few different light level options as well as a red or green color option. This will help you preserve night vision in the cockpit.

Be sure to look into the function of the light, as well. Some lights require you to go through the bright white light options before getting to the red option. Unfortunately, it can a bit of a challenge to find good flashlights with this well thought out design but many headlamps do have this function.

You may also want a flashlight that uses conventional batteries (AA or AAA) so you don’t have to remember to keep them charged. However, if you’ll already be carrying a spare battery to charge other items, it may not be a big deal.

If you’re going to go with a headlamp you’ll want one that’s comfortable to wear on those long flights.

NITECORE Flashlight

This is our top pick for a basic flashlight that should work for any pilot.

This is a very bright, very compact, and affordable flashlight. It comes with 5 separate brightness settings, a red mode, and a number of special features such as strobe, SOS, and beacon.

Plus it uses AA batteries so with a few extras in your bag you’ll be good for a long time.

We also like the inclusion of the SOS and beacon features. These are the kinds of things that you aren’t likely to use often, but which could someday be extremely useful – even life-saving! The five brightness settings are also welcome.

The package includes a number of additional features too, such as a lanyard, spare parts, keychain light, and holster.

Streamlight Stinger Flashlight

Especially at larger and busier airports, you will want to write down everything you are told. Directions can get long and complicated at times, so the less transmissions it takes to get instructions to you, the better for ATC and for you.

This flashlight has a lot going for it, but with one main flaw.

First the good. The Stinger is an extremely well-made, compact, and powerful light that will stand the test of time and prove a joy to use. The beam has three brightness settings which is really useful for your preflight inspection of the plane. And the resilience of the light is second-to-none.

Unfortunately, though, the flashlight does not include a red or green option, meaning that it won’t be as effective for providing a low level of light that won’t ruin your night vision. There is a solution to this however (see below).

It’s also a shame that the battery is rechargeable. While there will be some people who like this feature, for many others it can mean another thing to remember before a night flight.

Searching for a good flight bag?

Discover a bag that meets all your needs. Check out our ranking of some of the best flight bags available (You might also want to see our top recommended aviation headsets as well).

Streamlight Flip Lens for Stinger Flashlight

If you loved everything about the Stinger but need that red or green functionality, then there is always the option to add colors using these lenses.

This is a neat solution, but you’ll have to buy the lenses separately and then store them with the light.

Maglite XL50 LED Flashlight

This tactical pack should provide everything that the average pilot needs in a flashlight, all in a single package.

Specifically, you’ll receive a light with a powerful LED beam. This is a small, compact, and very well-made tool, anodized against corrosion.

The tactical pack includes colored lenses, pocket clip, and an anti-roll device. Again, this is not as convenient as being able to switch between colors with the press of a button. But it’s a great pack and particularly well-made and durable tool.

LUMENSHOOTER Multi-Color Flashlight

The Lumenshooter places its multiple colors front and center, and each of these is vivid and useful.

The flashlight also comes with some useful additional features, such as a memory function. This means that if you’re on a color for three seconds, the torch will remain on that color when you turn it back on. No rotating between colors. If you’re using this primarily for reading charts in the cockpit, then that’s a perfect feature.

Otherwise, this is another very nicely made flashlight and one that is once again resilient, compact, and ergonomic to use.

Smith & Wesson Galaxy 12 LED 15 Lumen Flashlight

So how does this Smith & Wesson Galaxy 12 stack up against the others?

In terms of the basics, it has those covered well. This is a small and well-made flashlight with a satisfying ergonomic grip, and a durable anodized aerospace aluminum. That’s important, as it means the flashlight will last a long time and won’t fail you in an emergency. We also like that this is powered by regular AAA batteries (included), and the included holster and wrist lanyard could also be useful.

The flashlight also uses multiple switch technology, mapping red, blue, and white to a single switch. It’s quick and easy to use.

The downside of this design that we can see, is that it means you need to cycle through all the colors before you can turn it off. This can be an issue if you’re trying to keep the light low and you need to switch to the more disruptive blue before you can turn it off. Covering the end with a hand will solve this issue though.

The torch is also nice and compact at 6.25” and only weighs 6.4 ounces: perfect for throwing into a bag.

Best Headlamps

Flight Outfitters LED Headlamp

The Flight Outfitters LED Headlamp is an excellent option for any pilot. One of the best features of this headlamp (and missing on many others) is two separate buttons for the red and white light. This makes it easy to turn on the red light without having to flash through the white light.

Another great feature that’s often missing on other headlamps is two brightness settings for the red light. This can make a big difference while in the cockpit.

The only downside to this light is it doesn’t feel like a quality headlamp like some of the other options.

Black Diamond Cosmo Headlamp

The Black Diamond Cosmo headlamp comes with a red night vision, dimming options, strobe lighting feature, and the ability to turn on and off without needing to cycle through the white modes. In short, that’s everything you could need for a headlamp like this.

It’s powered by AAA batteries, and offers basic water resistance so you don’t need to worry about it getting wet in the rain.

One complaint we have with this headlamp however is it’s somewhat confusing function. It has a bit of a learning curve to get used to switching between white and red light.

BioLite HeadLamp 200 Lumen Rechargeable Head Light

The BioLite headlamp features a smart, low-profile design that is comfortable to use. The device is rechargeable via USB which may not be preferred by all pilots. The headlamp also comes with a variety of different modes, including white + dim, red + dim, white strobe, and red strobe.

A great feature is the option to tilt the front panel downward. This can help you to angle it down to read checklists or charts in the cockpit, while also avoiding ruining your night vision.

A single charge will offer you 40 hours on low, or 3 hours on the highest setting white light. The whole thing weighs only 50 grams (which is extremely light). One small downside is there’s no water resistance.

If you’d like a higher output option the BioLite 330 lumen headlamp is another great option.

Nitecore NU25 Headlamp

Finally, we have one last headlamp, the Nitecore NU25. This high output headlamp includes a 13 lumen red light for reading charts in the cockpit.

This incredibly lightweight headlamp will be comfortable to wear for those long night flights. It also includes a high CRI 20 lumen light that renders colors better and makes it easier to read.

This headlamp uses a rechargeable battery so you’ll want to take that into account when deciding if this is the headlamp for you.

Overall, the Flight Outfitters is our favorite headlamp on the list but any of these will work well for a pilot.

Every pilot needs a good flight bag.

Whether you’re jumping in a Cessna for your very first training flight, or you’re a pilot with thousands of hours under your belt, this article will help you find the best flight bag to meet your needs.

Before we jump into the flight bag reviews, however, let’s talk about what makes a good flight bag.

What to Look for in a Flight Bag

They type of flight bag you buy will largely depend on the type of flying you do.

If you’re a brand new student pilot, you may want a larger bag to carry all of the extra study materials you’ll need when you’re at the airport.

If you just fly occasionally, or always go on short day trips, you can usually get away with a smaller bag that will just fit your headset and iPad/charts.

Of course, if you’re an airline pilot, or about to be one, you’ll want a much larger bag for those overnight flights.

Overall, you’ll want a bag made out of a durable material that won’t wear down easily.

What to Carry in Your Flight Bag

Every pilot has different opinions on what the essential flight bag gear is but in general, you’ll always have these items:

  1. Pilot certificate and Medical
  2. Headset
  3. Backup Batteries (if needed)
  4. iPad
  5. Extra charts
  6. Pencil/Pen
  7. Flashlight
  8. Kneeboard
  9. Water & snacks
  10. Sunglasses
  11. Fuel Tester

As you look at bags, it may help to write out a list of everything you’d like to be able to carry with you. Some pilots also like to have a backup radio and other emergency/backup gear.

Whatever you decide, make sure you buy a bag with enough storage space to comfortably fit everything.

Now that you know what gear you need to store in your flight bag, let’s take a look at some of the best options on the market.

Best Flight Bags for Student Pilots

Editors Pick: Flight Outfitters Lift Flight Bag Review

See the Latest Price

The Flight Outfitters Lift Flight Bag is a sturdy and highly convenient flight bag that’s easy to carry in one hand but also offers ample space for everything you could need.

There’s a separate pouch for a water bottle for easy access, or a back-up radio pocket. There’s also a fuel tester pocket, and 2 external chart pockets.

The fleece-lined headset pockets make sure that your headset will be kept in place, while the adjustable shoulder strap makes it easy to carry around the airport.

Dimensions are 12”x10.5”x9”.

What’s great about this bag is just how clearly it has been designed specifically for pilots – with lots of thoughtful compartments and design features. The manufacturer Flight Outfitters is well known for creating premium pilot products, and this bag is no different.

The bag is also particularly sturdy and compact, meaning it doesn’t get in your way and you’ll never have to worry about damaging your possessions.

The bag comes in a few different colors, mainly with a black body and colored accents. The fleece interior is lined orange to make it easier to find in the dark.

The drawback is that this bag is relatively small and with very specific pockets. That is to say that it isn’t quite as versatile as some other bags on this list. Some buyers might also prefer a leather aesthetic.

Pros

  • Compact Size for essentials
  • Popular with private pilot students
  • Well-thought out pockets
  • Extremely durable

Cons

  • Small in size
  • Can’t be easily cleaned
  • Only one color option available

Conclusion:

Given it’s compact size, adequate storage space and durable material this flight bag is perfect for both student pilots and flight instructors.

Flight Gear HP iPad Bag Review

See the Latest Price

As he name suggests, the Flight Gear HP iPad bag was designed around the iPad. And, given that nearly every pilot you’ll meet flies with an iPad or tablet, there’s a huge market for this type of bag.

As you might expect then, the bag features a large, padded iPad pocket that has a handy pass-through slot for charging.

It likewise comes with the usual headset hanger, water bottle, and fuel tester pockets, organizer pocket (with key ring) and more.

Its compact size once again ensures that it won’t get in the way, and makes it perfect for fitting into cockpits or under chairs.

The front of the bag unzips entirely, which means you’ll be able to easily get in and access all the things you need.

Measurements are 12”x7.5”x132. This makes it just slightly bigger than the previous entry.

The bag only comes in one color, which is black and cyan.

Like the previous option, this bag is very structured with very clearly defined compartments for specific roles. If you hang your headphones inside, this doesn’t leave a lot of space for additional items – such as lunch or a few books.

Pros

  • Good looking, Premium Bag
  • Many Functional Compartments
  • Front-Opening

Cons

  • Somewhat inflexible
  • Only comes in one color
  • Less resilient than the previous offering from Flight Outfitters

Conclusion:

The Flight Gear HP iPad Bag is another excellent option for pilots who really don’t need to carry too much stuff on their flight and around the airport. It’s a well designed bag that makes just about every pocket easy to access.

AirClassics Dispatch Pilot Bag Review

See the Latest Price

This bag is the smallest on the list and less rigid than the previous two options. It functions just like a standard shoulder bag. This will appeal to some readers and not others.

While it isn’t rigid, it is made from a durable 600D polyester and the interior tablet pocket is also padded.

The interior is also very spacious with two separate pockets including the main compartment and smaller area for charts and any other small documents. The large space provides room for headsets, along with one or two other items.

You’ll also find a front pocket with space for pens and spare batteries, side slots for fuel testers, flashlights, and water bottles, and an adjustable strap. Note that the water bottle pocket is not specifically intended for that role and won’t fit all bottles.

The interior is lined blue to make it easier to find what you’re looking for in the dark.

While the front compartment is front opening, the two main pockets need to be accessed from the top.

Dimensions are 11.5”x9”x4.5”.

Pros

  • Compact Bag for the bare essentials
  • Blue Interior for easy visibility
  • Looks more like a “regular” bag, making it slightly more versatile

Cons

  • More difficult to access everything
  • Fewer specific pockets

Conclusion:

The AirClassics Dispatch Flight Bag is perfect for the pilot on a budget. It can easily store the essential gear you need for your flights. If you’ll be using this bag as a student pilot, you may want to consider also bringing a backpack to the airport for any additional study materials you need for your lessons.

Flight Gear HP Crosswind Bag Review

See the Latest Price

This bag is a little different from some of the others on the list so far. This is shaped more like a gym bag, being a longer and more oblong design.

That said, it’s still a rather compact bag and the simple handle makes it easy to carry in one hand.

This shape gives it a much larger main compartment, which the manufacturer describes as “cavernous” (perhaps a tad generous!).

There’s certainly a lot of room in here for books, a kneeboard, and some extra gear compared to the first three bags.

It also comes with many of the benefits you associate with the Flight Gear brand, such as a high visibility interior for easily finding things in the dark, exterior pockets for fuel testers and water bottles, and a comfortable padded strap.

That said, it only comes in a single color and has fewer “specialty” pockets for pilots. It also lacks any additional reinforcement that would make it more durable.

This is a simpler, more affordable design. It will do the job for most, but perhaps lacks the wow factor of some options here, or the extreme practicality.

Pros

  • Design provides large interior space
  • Still easy to carry one-handed/store
  • Affordable

Cons

  • More difficult to access everything
  • Fewer specific pockets

Conclusion:

he Flight Gear HP Crosswind is an excellent bag for pilot’s who want a small bag but still need some extra gear that won’t fit in the smaller bags mentioned above.

In particular, this bag is great for flight students who have a small stack of books and manuals they need to haul around every day at the airport.

Best Flight Bags for Private Pilots

Myogloflight PLC Pro Flight Bag Backpack Review

See the Latest Price

This bag is taller than many of the others we have looked at, at 16”x10”x3”.

This gives it a shape more like a suitcase or even a backpack – and it can be worn on the pack or attached to a separately sold “luggage cart.”

This versatility makes it a strong choice for a lot of pilots.

Likewise, the amount of storage it affords will also be very beneficial for many. The entire front compartment opens up, allowing easy access to the roomy interior.

Here, you’ll be able to store an iPad in a pocket, as well as numerous other gadgets and tools in the mesh pockets on the opposite side. These are perfect for headphones, cables, chargers, and more. A handy strap is also perfect for fuel-testers.

The only downsides here are the price, and the fact that it is somewhat large, meaning you’ll need a bit more storage space for it.

Pros

  • Lots of storage
  • Versatile system can be worn as a backpack or pulled on a luggage cart
  • Plenty of pockets

Cons

  • One of the most expensive options
  • Bottom of bag isn’t reinforced

BrightLine Flex B7 Flight – Echo Review

See the Latest Price

The B7 Flight-Echo is a somewhat different beast compared with the other options on this list so far.

This is a much larger bag that has a thicker depth and a whole lot of pockets. Seriously. This bag has pockets everywhere.

In fact, it has three separate attachment points for shoulder straps – and even three pockets right on the front!

It definitely took a while to remember what pocket was storing what.

The bag comes with a SPE instead of a SPA, a big adjustable water bottle pocket. It also has a particularly strong main handle with slots for a J-hook.

The B7 Flight is designed specifically for airline captains, but is suitable for everyone else too. The huge number of pockets, compartments, and zippers means there is plenty of room for all the gear you need.

And with a whole lot of storage space, it’s ideal for a large number of personal uses as well. This will easily hold an iPad AND a keyboard, including cases. You can even fit a 13″ MacBook Pro in here, along with a ton of adapters and documents!

And you can actually fit two sets of headphones in!

Despite all this, it’s actually rather compact and easy to carry in one hand – though it might create a few more space challenges than some of the other options we’ve looked at so far.

It’s tough, though it isn’t specially reinforced as some other options on this list are.

One other handy feature on this bag is its ability to separate into different bags. So if you’re headed to the airport to fly IFR and need more gear you can bring the whole thing. If it’s a VFR day, you can separate the bag and take just take a third of the bag.

No other brand on the list has this unique functionality.

Pros

  • Premium bag that’s extremely versatile
  • Huge number of compartments
  • Ability to split into separate bags

Cons

  • Can get rather heavy when fully loaded with gear
  • Not specially reinforced
  • Higher priced bag

Conclusion:

The BrightLine Flex B7 Flight Echo bag was designed for airline pilots. So if you’re headed to the airlines (or already there) this may be a great option for you. If your the type of private pilot who always wants to prepared for anything (and thus need lots of gear) this bag is perfect for you.

Flight Gear HP Tailwind Pilot Backpack Review

See the Latest Price

Flight Gear HP make great bags for pilots, and this flight bag backpack is no different.

If you need to haul more stuff around the airport this backpack is exactly what you need.

Like other bags, the entire front will zip open to provide easy access. Here, there’s ample internal space for a headset which can remain suspended and protected.

There are iPad sleeves, and enough space around the rest to fit a host of other items.

Pros

  • Opens all the way
  • Easy to Carry
  • Suspends headphones in the pocket

Cons

  • Headphones pocket takes up a lot of space

Flight Outfitters Brush Pilot Bag Review

See the Latest Price

This bag comes in a light canvas that has leather accents.

It stands out immediately from the crowd thanks to its color scheme, while the leather elements make it feel premium without limiting the practicality.

The padded headphone pockets (two of them!) mean you don’t waste previous internal storage, of which there is plenty.

The interior is large enough to store a lot of additional items, while the metal reinforced handle is enough to hold weightier items.

This is another bag from the excellent Flight Outfitters, and again comes with a lot of extremely thoughtful design features.

For example, the Brush Pilot Bag features a pass through strap on the back which lets you easily slide it over rolling luggage handles. The orange interior meanwhile makes it easy to find things in a dark cockpit.

We love this bag, but it’s a shame the design won’t be to all tastes.

Pros

  • Premium design
  • Reinforced handle
  • Suspends headphones in the pocket

Cons

  • Headphones pocket takes up a lot of space

Lightspeed Aviation – The Markham, Leather Flight Bag Review

See the Latest Price

For this writer, a flight bag should be a premium item for a successful professional. And for this writer, a premium bag should be leather.

That’s what makes this such a standout option, along with many other excellent features such as the center zipper that opens to reveal a large interior compartment that is more than spacious enough for headsets, charts, and all your other gear.

The front is divided with an organizer pocket for useful items and documents. A zippered rear pocket is great for storing iPads, and the side pockets are ideal for water bottles and fuel checkers – or you can use it for storing a transceiver thanks to the handy antenna-on storage feature.

There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can check out the bag first and return it if it’s not for you.

Of course, there is a trade-off with leather and this option is not as structured or reinforced as some others. It’s also not likely to hold up as well to the weather. But if you want something really premium with lots of pilot-centric features, the Markham is a cut above.

Pros

  • Lots of highly useful compartments and pockets
  • Great size and comfortable to carry
  • Extremely premium design

Cons

  • Expensive

Have a flight bag recommendation we missed? Let us know in the comments below. And be sure to check out the best books for pilots and add them to your flight bag!

Communication is absolutely critical while you’re up in the air – and good quality aviation headsets make all the difference when you’re communicating with the tower and other aircraft.

Whether you’re a brand new pilot searching for your first headset before you start flight training or your a seasoned airline pilot, you’re sure to find a headset that will meet your needs on this list.

What to Look for In an Aviation Headset

Here are some of the most important factors you should consider when trying to pick out an aviation headset.

Passive Noise Reduction vs Active Noise Reduction

A great aviation headset has to block out more than just one type of background noise and system interference at the same time.

Some headsets are great at the one and not so good at the other, and many times this is something you’ll only discover once you’ve tested it out for yourself.

Passive noise reduction is simply the noise the headphones block with their design. Most aviation headsets are over ear headsets and will block out a good amount of sound.

Active noise reduction (ANR) is when a headset emits a second sound that cancels out the other sound. In simple terms, the emitted sound wave is the inverse of the outside noise sound wave and thus they cancel each other out.

Two headsets for pilots

Comfort

After a long 4 hour cross country flight with a bad headset you’ll be ready to upgrade to something more comfortable. You want a headset that isn’t too tight but tight enough to provide a good seal and provide that passive noise reduction.

To help you find a good fit you may be able to borrow different brands of headsets from your flight school to test out before you buy your own.

In-Ear vs Over Ear

Another thing to consider is in-ear vs. over ear. Good in-ear headsets are comparatively new to the market but have become quite good at blocking sound (typically via active noise reduction).

Even with advancements, however, over ear headsets are still generally better at reducing noise in the cockpit. You may also find over ear headsets more comfortable when wearing for long periods of time.

Good Microphone

The quality of the microphone is just as important as the quality of what you can hear through your headset.

Communication while up in the air (or still on the ground for that matter) are always a two-way street. What’s the point if you can hear the other side just fine, but they can’t hear a thing on your end?

Again, testing out a few different headsets ate your flight school can be a great way to find ones you like.

The Top 8 Aviation Headsets By Category

Every pilot will have their own preference when it comes to a good headset. Considering the most important qualities listed above, I’ve tried to break down this list into top performers by category.

Some look for in-ear headsets, others want Bluetooth capability and a wireless model; you yourself might be after something else.

The Best All Around Headset – Bose A20 Aviation Headset

The Bose A20 is one of the most popular aviation headsets on the market. It’s used by thousands of pilots around the world.

It’s designed to be used in environments with a high volume of external noise and uses active noise cancellation to minimize it. Bose claims this headset reduces external noise by 30% compared to conventional headsets (granted, they don’t define what they mean by conventional headsets).

There is a Bluetooth option of this headset that allows you to listen to music or take phone calls. And you can choose to mute or mix your audio sources.

All of the settings on this headset are conveniently controlled using a small control module attached to the headset cable.

The mic can be connected to the right or left earphone allowing you to customize it to your liking. And while the headset isn’t nearly as light as the Bose Proflight Series 2 below, it’s still a lightweight headset at only 12 oz.

The biggest downside to the A20 headset is the price tag. This headset comes in at about $1,000 making it one of the priciest options on the market.

If you’re looking to wear one of the best pilot headsets on the market this is the one for you.

The Best in-Ear Headset – Bose Proflight Series 2 Aviation Headset

If you’re tired of bulky, heavy aviation headsets, then consider the Bose Proflight Series 2. It’s one of the lightest headsets available on the market right now – and the best possible value for money at this price level.

Weight is a defining factor with this model weighing in at a total of only 4.5 oz. That’s considerably lighter than the standard aviation headsets some readers might be used.

This headset uses active noise cancellation to cut back on outside noise so you can hear tower clearly. There are three different active noise cancellation settings you can choose from so you can adjust the headset in flight.

The headset also includes Bluetooth connectivity. All of the settings on the headset can be controlled via a control module on the cable.

One downside to this headset is the earbuds. If you aren’t a huge fan of earbuds you may not want to wear these. After a few hours they can start to get a bit uncomfortable.

In terms of clarity, both in-and-out, the Bose Proflight Series 2 is highly rated.

Best Headset for New Pilots – David Clark H-10-13.4 Aviation Headset

You can probably find David Clark headsets in just about every flight school across the country. It’s a dependable headset that doesn’t break the bank. I even have a couple pairs on hand to use whenever I take friends up to fly.

David Clark headsets use passive noise reduction so it won’t get nearly as quite as some of the other options that include active noise cancellation but they still work quite well.

One of its best qualities is the fact that the David Clark aviation headset is highly adjustable: The boom mic can be worn on both sides, and adjusted to exactly where you need it.

The headset does use a noise cancelling mic that helps reduce the noise transmitted when you speak and the function certainly seems to work well in my experience.

This is really one of the best headsets out there for new pilots. David Clark headsets make a great first, second or backup headset for anyone.

Curious about how much pilots make? We’ve done the research and pulled the numbers so you can begin your search for the right airline to work for.

Best Headset Under $300 – Kore Aviation KA-1 Premium

When it comes to headsets that fall under the $300 price point, a lot of professional pilots may think you can’t get a high quality headset for the money. But in reality, you can find some decent options such as the Kore Aviation KA-1 headset.

While it lacks many of the features of the Bose A20, it will still operate well enough for most student pilots.

Gel cushioning keeps it from pressing too hard against the ears. Many cheap headsets are known for being rather uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time but that isn’t the case with the Kore headset. Of course, comfort isn’t the only thing that makes the Kore model worth considering.

Easy-to-reach controls and its highly adjustable nature helps. It also performs well when it comes to noise canceling and overall sound quality. Better than other models of the same price point, which is how this particular model ended up on this list.

The biggest downside to a low budget headset such as this one is long term durability. Don’t expect to use this headset for years and years. It will however, get you through your student training.

All things considered, the Kore Aviation KA-1 headset is a good option for student pilots on a tight budget.

Best Wireless Headset – Lightspeed Sierra Aviation Headset

If you don’t want to shell out $1,000 for the Bose A20 but you’d like a step up from the David Clark headset, this is the headset for you.

The Lightspeed Sierra headset comes highly rated both for it’s comfort and noise cancelling abilities.

Just like the Bose A20, this headset uses active noise cancellation (ANR) which does an excellent job eliminating outside noise so you can hear tower and other pilots/passengers clearly.

This headset also uses conventional AA batteries so you don’t have to worry about keeping it charged, just make sure you keep extra batteries in your flight bag.

The headset also includes Bluetooth functionality but there are some users who have had issues using it on phone calls.

Overall this is an excellent headset with top features unavailable in many other headsets. Take a look and see if this is the right headset for you.

Lowest Budget Headset – Kore PNR Aviation Headset

If you’re budget is really tight, the Kore Aviation P1 PNR is probably the best option for you. It’s priced even lower than the Kore Aviation KA-1.

Some of the benefits of the PNR Aviation Headset include what the manufacturer calls Premium Noise Reduction, and it is equipped with foam cups and traditional wire boom microphone control.

It has a 3.5mm port so you could run a cable to your phone to listen to music if you’d like.

It can be one of the heavier headsets, but it’s also priced at the point where weight usually isn’t as vital as quality: Who cares if it fits a little heavier than the lightest model mentioned in this article when it still fits the bill as one of the most budget-friendly.

How much does this model stand to cost you? Take a look.

Runners Up

The David Clark DC ONE-X ENC Aviation Headset

Here’s another one by David Clark, who’s known for making high quality headsets. The DC ONE-X headset could be considered David Clarks competition with the A20 headset.

Essential features that define the David Clark model are the 5-year warranty and the active noise canceling ability.

This headset also includes Bluetooth functionality so you can listen to music or take phone calls with it which is a handy feature. The ability to listen to music on those long flights definitely helps out.

While I haven’t used this headset personally, it does have a decent number of complaints around comfort on longer flights.

Overall the DC ONE-X is a sound headset that will serve you well.

Once you’ve got a headset, be sure to pick up the perfect flight bag to carry all your gear. Every pilot has their own must have gear but if you’re not sure where to start check out our list of flight bag essentials.

Once you’ve got a headset, be sure to pick up the perfect flight bag to carry all your gear. Every pilot has their own must have gear but if you’re not sure where to start check out our list of flight bag essentials.

The Faro G2 ANR Premium Pilot Headset

The Faro G2 headset is a decent option but I think there are better options found above. I include it here because it’s the low priced headset that actually includes active noise reduction, something you normally have to pay more to get.

There’s a 3-year warranty, and it ranks high on reliability: It could be said that it’s built like a tank – but that is the only impressive enough feature to still give it a mention in this article.

The headset also includes noise cancelling in the mic which should make your voice come through a bit clearer when speaking. And it has volume controls for each ear which can come in handy.

The total weight ranks at more than 2 pounds so it’s heavier than many headsets out there. The biggest complaint I found with this headset was the sound quality. While the ANR functions well, the headset just doesn’t bring audio in loud enough for some pilots.

What headset recommendations do you have? Let us know if you have one that didn’t make the list and we’ll take a look.

An airspace is a region of air that is available for flying aircraft. However, the precise nature of aircraft that can fly in these regions, and the circumstances under which they are permitted, will vary from one area to another.

As with land, the air above the ground is generally owned by private landowners, governments, and states. There are certain laws and restrictions that therefore must control the use of flying vehicles in these areas.

There are two general categories of airspace: controlled and uncontrolled.

Uncontrolled airspace is airspace that ATC does not control.

Controlled airspace is exactly that, airspace regulated by ATC. This includes Prohibited, Restricted, and the many different airspace classes.

Controlled Airspace Classifications

You want to be transmitting and listening on the correct frequency at all times. Write down all applicable frequencies and have them readily available for your flight. It’s going to make you much less stressed, and can save you from an embarrassing transmission as well. Be sure to have extra pens or pencils on standby in your flight bag.

Class A Airspace

Class A airspace is the airspace from 18,000 feet mean sea level (MSL), up to and including flight level 600. This includes the airspace within 12 nautical miles from the coast of the 48 contiguous states and Alaska.

Operation in class A airspace must be conducted under instrument flight rules (IFR), except in very specific circumstances.

Class B Airspace

Class B airspace is the airspace between the ground level and 10,000 feet MSL around the country’s busiest airports. Here flight is extremely regulated in order to contend with the high amount of air traffic. Air traffic control clearance is required for all aircraft operating in the area. The configuration of each Class B airspace is unique in that the area gets larger as your altitude increases.

Airspace chart class B airspace

Class C Airspace

Class C is the airspace from the surface to 4,000 feet above airport elevation in the regions around airports with operational control towers and radar approach control. These are also airports which have a particular number of IFR operations/passenger enplanements.

Once again, the configurations of these airspaces are individually tailored to each area. That said, Class C airspace normally covers a five nautical mile radius around the airport that extends from the ground level to 1,200 feet and an outer radius of ten NM from 1,200 feet to 4,000 feet.

All aircraft in class C airspace are required to engage in radio communication with the air traffic control before entering the airspace and while they are within the airspace.

Airspace chart class C airspace

Class D Airspace

Class D airspace is between the surface and 2,500 feet above airport elevation at airports with operational control towers. Like others, Class D airspace is configured individually to the airport.

IAPs (arrival extensions for instrument approach procedures) can be either Class D or Class E airspace.

As with Class C, aircraft must establish a two-way communication with ATC facilities that offer air traffic services prior to entering and once within the airspace.

Airspace chart class D airspace

Class E Airspace

This is essentially a catch all. It’s the controlled airspace that is not categorized as class A, B, C, or D. Most of the airspace located across the US is designated as Class E. The aim is to cover sufficient airspace to enable the safe control and separation of aircraft in IFR operations.

You can learn more about the different types of Class E airspace by referring to the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM).

Most charts depict all areas of Class E airspace with bases under 14,500 feet MSL. Where this is not illustrated, the class E airspace is still assumed to begin at 14,500 feet MSL.

Class E airspace base is 1,200 feet AGL in most areas. However, it is also commonly at 700 feet or even at the surface.

Usually, this airspace will extend up to 18,000 feet MSL (not inclusive). Anything above FL 600 is Class E airspace.

Not sure if you have all the gear you need for flight training? Take a look at our list of essential gear every pilot should carry in their flight bag.

Uncontrolled Airspace

Class G Airspace

Class G Airspace is the uncontrolled airspace classification. This means that the airspace is not included under class A, B, C, D, or E. It extends from the surface to the base of the overlying airspace.

ATC has no authority nor responsibility for air traffic control in these regions. However, pilots still need to adhere to the visual flight rules (VFR) minimums.

Special Use Airspace

Some airspace is restricted to certain activities or there are limitations on aircraft activities in the area. This is known as either special use airspace or special area of operation (SAO). In some of these areas there are restrictions placed on the mixed use of the airspace.

Special use airspace, also called special area of operation (SAO), is a classification for airspace where certain activities must be confined. In other cases, it may be an area where limitations can be imposed on aircraft operations that fall outside the remit of those activities. In some cases, these can create limitations on the mixed use of airspace.

Airspace chart special use airspace

Special use airspaces are depicted on charts, and should also include the name, number, and effective altitude.

The most common forms of special use airspace include:

·         Prohibited areas

·         Restricted areas

·         Military operation areas

·         Controlled firing areas

·         Warning areas

·         Alert areas

For example, if a military exercise should be carried out in a particular airspace, then it is important for rules and limitations to be imposed on commercial airlines passing through. This can help to prevent accidents, while also protecting the integrity of those military operations.

Prohibited Areas

These are areas that prohibit the flight of any non-authorized aircraft. These areas will usually be established for security purposes, or for other reasons that are related to national welfare. The designation of these areas can be found in the Federal Register, as well as on aeronautical charts.

Some examples of these prohibited areas include: Camp David, and the National Mall above the White House and Congressional buildings.

When looking at charts you’ll see these designated with a P along with a number. It is absolutely vital that you are aware of any prohibited areas along your flight path.

Airspace chart prohibited areas

Restricted Areas

These are areas where operations may be hazardous to aircraft and are often related to military activities. However, restricted areas are different from Military Operations Areas. Flying in these areas is possible but requires approval and there may be restrictions on the activities an aircraft can engage in when flying in restricted areas.

The hazards in these areas can include artillery firing, aerial gunnery, and other military training that doesn’t necessarily include military pilot training.

Airspace chart restricted areas

Entering these areas without first gaining authorization from controlling agencies can be highly hazardous. ATC facilities apply these procedures when aircraft are not on IFR clearance:

·         If area is non-active and has been released to the FAA, then the aircraft may operate in the space as normal without clearance.

·         If the area is restricted and has not been released. The ATC facility issues or denies clearance to the aircraft into the airspace.

The letter R is used to chart restricted areas along with a number – such as R-4401. These can be seen on the en route chart for use at the altitude.

Curios about pilot pay? Learn how much you could earn at the airlines with our guide to pilot salaries.

Military Operation Areas

Also referred to as MOAs, military operation areas are airspaces that exist for the purpose of training military pilots. MOAs have defined vertical and lateral airspace that separates military training traffic from IFR traffic.

Where an MOA is actively being used, the nonparticipating IFR traffic will require clearance via the MOA. However, this will only be an option if the IFR separation can be offered by ATC. Otherwise, the IFR traffic will be redirected.

Airspace chart military operation area

Be sure to review the sectional chart for the altitudes affected, the times of operation, and the controlling agency.

Controlled Firing Areas

CFAs are areas that contain potentially hazardous activities, however, you will not find these listed on any charts.

Instead these are activities that must be stopped as soon as a non participatory aircraft is spotted on radar, or from a ground or aerial lookout.

Non participatory aircraft do not have to change their flight path.

Warning Areas

Warning areas operate in a similar manner to restricted areas. The key difference is the US does not have sole jurisdiction. These areas are located from 3NM outward off the coast of the US. The activity here has been identified as being hazardous to nonparticipating aircraft, and the purpose of the jurisdiction is to warn pilots of potential dangers.

Warning areas could be located over international or domestic waters.

You’ll see these areas on a map designated with a W.

Alert Areas

Areas with a high volume of flight training or other unusual aerial activity are called alert areas.

Nonparticpitory planes are allowed to move through the space, however, they need to be alert and aware that training activities may be going on here. Both parties, those transiting the alert area, and those participating in the alert area are equally responsible for collision avoidance.

Alert areas can be identified on aeronautical charts by the letter A, followed by a string of numbers.

Airspace chart table

Other Airspace Areas

There are a huge number of additional airspace areas that refer to classifications not covered by the classes we have addressed so far.

These include:

  • Local airport advisory (LAA)
  • Published VFR routes
  • Parachute jump aircraft operations
  • Temporary flight restrictions (TFR)
  • Military training route (MTR)
  • National security areas (NSA)
  • Air defense identification zones (ADIZ)
  • Terminal radar service area (TRSA)
  • Special awareness training
  • Wildlife Areas/Wilderness Areas/National Parks: Request to operate above 2,000 AGL
  • National oceanic and atmospheric administration marine areas off the coast with a requirement to fly above 2,000 AGL.
  • Tethered Balloons for observation and weather recordings that extend on cables up to 60,000 ft

Each of these operates in a slightly different way. In many cases, the title is descriptive of the nature of the airspace.

For example, a military training routes are routes that are used by military aircraft to practice proficiency in tactical flying. These will usually be located below 10,000 feet MSL, at speeds above 250 knots.

Airspace chart wilderness area

Parachute jump aircraft operations meanwhile are areas used for precisely that, which may require special care and attention when passing through.

Wildlife areas might include a request to fly at above 2,000 AGL. This will ensure that birds and other wildlife will not be frightened or endangered by aircraft.

One other particularly important one to know is temporary flight restrictions. These are issued by a flight data center and come out as a notice to airmen. They include the location of the temporary restriction, the defined statute miles, the altitude, and the times of the restriction. You’ll often see these appear when the President or Vice President comes to visit a city.

There are many more airspace classifications and it is important to understand the difference between each type. Pilots should be familiar with the operational requirements for each class, and that includes those that are less common.

To learn more about each of these you can visit the FAA’s website with greater detail on each type of airspace.